Canberra Day 74

[Thursday 24th November, 2016]

What no one tells you about bad stomach cramps is that they make sitting on a bike rather uncomfortable. I don’t know why but the tensed muscles hurt when they are sat on. Anyway, moving on. The point is that its taken me from Saturday to get back on my bike and go for a ride. I finally got out today and did the opposite end of Lake Burley Griffin to Saturday. I rode down through the Australian University to the hilly circuit around the lake past Black Mountain, the Arboretum, old Government House, the yacht club and the peace garden then back over the bridge to home. Another 22km into my legs. Now to keep it up. So a change of clothes then down to the parliamentary triangle to check out some rose gardens that I noticed when driving past yesterday. They are opposite Old Parliament House and next to the Aboriginal “tent embassy”. The gardens don’t have a name, I’m not sure who they belong to, but they are beautiful and I spent a lovely hour taking photos, enjoying the beautiful blooms and appreciating nature. Then a quick drink and off to Beaver Galleries for a look around at the art works and lunch in the cafe. When I saw the Popular Pets Show at the National Portrait Gallery, the guide told us that one of the artists I liked the most was also showing at Beaver Galleries so I made a note to check it out. And I’m so glad that I did, I just love her style! She has a beautiful way of depicting animals that just makes you love her work! After that I was off home to jam in a quick nap before my next event, a sightseeing boat cruise on Lake Burley Griffin; I’m really packing it in today!


The cruise left from the yacht club which is so lovely, and there were a bunch of school kids taking lessons and training in different kinds of sail boats, dragon boats, canoes/kayaks, and I don’t know what else. Essentially we cruised the central loop of the bike trail but on the water, and the commentary was really interesting about the different buildings, monuments, and specific Canberra sights. It was a lovely afternoon and lovely to spend it on the water. Definitely a recommendation.

Then just a bunch of housework to finish off the day: a load of dishes, a load of washing, fold the dry washing, put bins out, the boring but necessary stuff. And another day done!


[Wednesday 23rd November, 2016]

I didn’t get out and about today, a bit of a catching up day sitting on the couch. I repacked my weekly medicine box and was surprised to find that I’d run out of one of my tablets. Well capsules actually but you know what I mean. I’d carefully checked all of my scripts before I left Melbourne to make sure that I had enough repeats until I got home, but must have slipped up somewhere. I didn’t want to have to get a new GP up here; I like my doctors in Melbourne and having to explain the whole story over again to a new doctor up here didn’t fill me with joy! But now I had to make an appointment with a new doctor and sort that out. And then, bonus! I got the script dispensed at the lovely Capital Chemist in Dickson and I reached the calendar year safety net amount of $1474! Now instead of the cost of my scripts being capped at the general price of $38.30, every script dispensed til the end of the year that is subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will be capped at $6.30! That’s going to make a big difference.

Then some groceries, some blogging, a load of washing, a load of dishes and some Facebook posting of my bird photos as well as asking for help with some ID questions from our NZ trip and from Canberra. It’s brilliant having these Facebook groups; the people are so experienced and helpful, and they always sort me out. On the down side they are private so the rest of you don’t get to see the photos. And that was about it for the day! The study meeting and the day was done.

Canberra Day 72

[Tuesday 22nd November, 2016] Another hot, dry day

Another not so great day physical health wise, but I tried. I got out there and did some stuff, and it ended up not such a bad day despite bad cramps and nausea; the digestive system is so cranky at times! So I ate some things that I should never eat…how does it know?? It’s so sensitive! Okay fine, so time to get back to to eating things that don’t make my insides explode. First of all, back to the botanic gardens for the daily 1 hour guided walking tour that I missed yesterday and it turns out I was the only one there so a personal tour of the gardens! How’s that? The volunteer was a really sweet lady and we had a fun time checking out all the areas I missed yesterday. Like all the rest of the gardens. And it was fascinating! A gum tree lawn, a rock garden, the red centre, the banksia garden and more that I’ve forgotten by now. And all with commentary which makes it so interesting. Around any water, and laying around all over the place outside of the rainforest actually, were water dragons which was a lot of fun. They are pretty much statues but I haven’t seen them before so its all new. It was a hot morning so I could appreciate the red centre! And so I spent a lovely hour wandering around the gardens with the guide learning such fascinating bits and bobs. Then I checked out the shop on the way out…not the best idea. A photo book of Canberra by Steve Parish, a bush flower guide, some bird magnets by talented artist Jeremy Boots…I think that was all.

I’ve been meaning to do the CSIRO discovery centre and keep putting it off for some reason…so I decided finally to just bite the bullet and go regardless of how I’m feeling, even if I’m not having the best day, just to go, see how it is, just make the best of whatever there is and have done with it so its not weighing on me anymore. It’s just gotten to that point! Luckily I got there just as a huge group of school kids left! So I had the whole place literally to myself, not even anyone at the desk. So I worked through the exhibits that were interesting, skipped the ones that weren’t that interesting and before I knew it I’d done the CSIRO centre, and it was interesting, and the whole stress was done. YAY! Then a well deserved nap. Then sorting out my new laptop, yet another attempt to get our mail delivered to the correct address and getting some assistance from fellow Facebook birders to ID some of the birds I’ve been photographing.

Finally hubby has been working super big days to try to get his part of the project done since they aren’t extending the deadline. So far it was 7pm and he wasn’t coming home so may as well make the most of the lovely evening and head to one of the bush walks I haven’t done yet: Black Mountain “Orchid Track”. I got there at 7.30pm and kept going till I couldn’t see, and my battery was threatening to go flat! Unfortunately I’ve missed the orchids. If I’d done it when we first got to Canberra I should have had better luck but I left it too late. Anyway, there were lots of other bush flowers and loads of birds so I was happy, what a nice way to end the day, wandering around the bush until the cicadas and crickets went to sleep.


The powerline reserve next to Black Mountain – the lines are so compelling to draw your eye into the photo

Canberra Day 71

[Monday 21st November, 2016] A hot dry day, warm morning

It may seem surprising but so far I still haven’t visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). I think that’s because I’ve had the Melbourne gardens in my head and have been thinking of all of the walking that’s involved there, so the thought of doing all that walking here has made me hesitant to jump in. The same reason why it took me so long to get to the zoo! But of course that’s silly on a couple of levels.

1) I’ve never done the whole Melbourne gardens in one session. I’ve done one section one day then come again another day and done another section and so on. I’ve done a free guided walking tour that did an inner circle of the gardens,  and a bird watching walk that did one half of the gardens, but never have I attempted to do it all at once. So why would I try here? I have time, I can come back as many times as it takes if I want to do it all. And after all, I might not WANT to do it all. And that’s okay. I don’t have to do everything. I might just want to taste to compare to Melbourne, and that’s enough. Apart from myself there’s no one saying that I SHOULD do it all; it’s an optional thing to do. But I’ve got myself strung out on the SHOULDs and MUSTs until I’m a bit more barmy than usual. I CAN’T go home without doing EVERYthing, MUST get everything finished!! It’s ridiculous but it’s hard to change. So I’m driving myself like a task master. Trying to wind that back but our deadline has been confirmed and now that we’re on a schedule, it’s hard to relax.

2) I’ve been doing so much walking while we’ve been here in Canberra, much more than I’d been doing in Melbourne, and a lot of it on hills. My stamina has definitely improved! My cardio fitness has improved. I puff a little less, I get up hills a little quicker and in general I’m fitter than I was at any point when I was at the Melbourne gardens. So why wouldn’t I be able to get around ANBG? That’s a question I don’t think to ask often; why wouldn’t I be able? I mean apart from dripping with sweat as soon as I got out of the car, and the blisters in old comfy shoes from feet swelling, and the irritable bowel syndrome which is giving me cramps to cripple a boxer today and leaving me feeble with not much resistance to going back home and back to bed. Otherwise, why wouldn’t I??

Located at the foot of Black Mountain, recognisable from anywhere in Canberra for the Telstra tower sticking up well into the sky from the top of the mountain, the gardens are set on the lower slopes. I believe its actually called Mount Annan but Black Mountain is all I’ve heard. It’s a fully native garden, which was staggering to me; I didn’t realise that so many of the plants I’ve seen around were natives! I didn’t realise that they ran a tour, but I’d missed it anyway. So I started out bravely because I wanted to be able to say I’d done something for the day slightly more than I wanted to go back home! In fact I had already been back home. Twice. It really is a miracle that I made it to the gardens at all! First I forgot my shorts. I was about to turn into the carpark when I remembered, and it’s just not worth it without them, especially in the heat with sweating. So I went back. While I was there I remembered to take a hat which I thought was a good effort; spontaneous remembering! But I forgot my drink bottle so around the block again! Some days I do make my days overly tedious compared to what they could be! I just struggle with my memory. But I finally got there, and was well inside when I remembered that I’d forgotten my drink bottle in the car! No turning back now! Luckily Canberra is very good at putting bubblers in lots of places and I could use the drink stations inside the gardens. I spent two hours wondering around the rainforest exhibit. It’s meant to take 18 minutes so obviously my pace was a little off! Actually I was creeping! Mainly because it was shady in there, also because it was cooler in there and the day was heating up by this stage. And I was stopping for birds all the way along. Plus I was just feeling seedy and sore so I crept along and around the fabulous boardwalks, up and down stairs, stopping to survive a cramp or ten, hoping that my bowels would hold it together til I got back to the cafe: they did, they never haven’t, but they’ve given me a few tense crampy moments! Cursing myself for eating apricot delight and jam. I really need to stick to my food plan. That was it for what I could manage; no more for today. Off to bed! It’s easier to ride out cramps and bad days while you’re sleeping! Two hours later and I woke up much better.

And since it was still only 4.30pm I headed down to Canberra Centre. I’ve been meaning to get a camera bag, should have gotten one when I bought the camera. We thought it might fit in the old bag but no. Hubby has been worried about how I’m carting my camera around so I thought I better get one. I’m trying hard to look after my camera carefully but my inate clumsiness, which has gotten worse on meds, means my possessions just don’t last in pristine condition very long! So off to JB wifi. I’ve never shopped there until I bought my laptop recently but the service there was really good so now its my store. I hate shopping around! I hate specs and details and particulars! I didn’t always. I used to love all this stuff, comparing what had what, making lists of comparisons, reading the brochures for specs, finding out all about everything so I could choose what absolutely best for me. But now? Attention span gone!! Okay well maybe its not so bad, just feels like it some days. Anyway, I took my camera and accessories and tested out a bunch of bags until I found one that suited me. One of the criteria is that it has to fit my “other stuff” in the bag once I have my camera out wherever I am. You know, drink bottle, sunscreen, mobile phone, car keys, sweat rag, etc. I tried out a bunch and bought one, and so far its pretty awesome.

And then hubby came home, we had tea, and it was a beautiful evening so we finally got around to doing the drive around all of the embassies in the lovely warm evening air with the windows down soaking up the sunset and the incredible buildings of some of the 92 embassies, high commissions, treasuries that makes their home in Canberra. This is totally worth doing! Some countries go all out in their native style and design incredible buildings. Some, ie. America, are works of art for the sheer amount of security staff, cars, technology, fences, barbed wire, and I could go on! Some are modest, some take up a whole block. Fascinating to see each and every one of them. And since the evening still wasn’t over? We headed up Mount Ainslie to the lookout to check out the rest of the sunset and the gorgeous dusk light over Canberra city as the lights came on. Also highly recommended!


One of the many beautiful views from Mount Ainslie at dusk

Canberra Day 70

[Sunday 20th November, 2016]

I’ve been trying to catch up the blog and I managed another two blogs today; no wonder I haven’t been keen to keep writing since! So I’m still catching up. Not a great deal to catch up on today though, our usual Sunday program and lunch at the same Vietnamese place as last night! But its cheap and fresh and delicious…just hope the staff that are all the same as last night don’t recognise us! A nap, writing the blogs, and a day done! I’ve borrowed a photo from yesterday, but it’s the same place. There, short and sweet, done and done!

Canberra Day 69

[Saturday November 19th] A hot dry day with cool to warm morning for riding

I’ve had two early mornings in a row after late nights, like 5am wide awake after midnight bedtimes, so it’s time to be alert but not alarmed as needing less sleep can be the first sign of a “high” or manic episode coming on. It’s nice to have a little more energy though, get a bit more done, drag my feet less, enjoy life that bit more; hopefully it’s just a PMS thing, cos that can happen, or just an oddity. So at 8am, after going back to sleep for a bit, I decided hubby’s suggestion of a morning bike ride was actually a good one. Usually I’m not with it enough to get up until hubby is nearly or actually back home from his ride, so I don’t really get to thinking about what to do while he’s out. But seize the day! Let’s change that up. So off I go exploring, finding my way down to Lake Burley Griffin via some lovely back streets, then around the middle and wetlands loop and a bit of the hilly loop to get there. You never know what you might find in the backstreets; check out the awesome bird street art. I have to say I felt a bit disorientated riding around the lake! It was 8.30am, but what with the second sleep earlier and people’s activities I felt like it was at least lunchtime. I mean who picnics on the edge of the lake at 8.30am in the morning? Who races dragon boats and attends a full boating carnival at 8.30am in the morning? What’s with people, do they hate sleeping in on the weekend? I can understand the people bird watching maybe, because I dropped off at the Jerrabomberra wetlands for a quick peek at the bird hide where a group of elderly were yapping at the top of their voices!! Hello, its a bird hide! Silence is required at all times otherwise what bird in its right mind is going to come close so that we get great views? I asked them to be quiet, one lady paid attention. I asked again and one oldie told me I could come back later! I told him it wasn’t for my convenience, it was the rule of bird hides; they left not long after. It stuck in my craw though!! I also stopped off at the site where they built trenches for soldiers to train in; that was pretty fascinating. Anyway, it was just incredible to see the masses of walkers, joggers, dogs, cyclists all out and about so early. Then home to hang out with hubby. We were planning on going out together but I was fading after all that exercise and emotion, so off for a nap and hubby put his feet up on the couch to chill out for a while.


If I could design my own wall, I don’t think I could have chosen better!

Our plan was to go to Sparrow hill in Kowen Park which is out off the Bungendore Road past Queanbeyan. It’s a dead end road that I think is a leftover from when they built the current road, and its beautiful with gorgeous green English trees mixed in with the eucalypts and otherwise sandy, rocky, dry bush. They’ve built 40 kilometres of mountain bike paths with linking trails and man alive, are they well used on the weekend compared to when I dropped by the other week! There was a single other car there that day and today I can easily count 20 without hesitating! As the afternoon wore on more and more cars with picnics and bikes and rugs and crates of stuff arrived…turns out there was a juniors 3 hour mountain bike enduro race so all the families were piling in for a nice night in the bush from 4 to 7pm. Meanwhile I wasn’t enjoying the 30 degree heat (yep I know its not that hot but I was dripping!) so I wasn’t budging far at all, and sticking to the shade (which gum trees aren’t really great for), and basically doing as little as possible while trying to watch for birds as much as possible. I didn’t get a great long list, but I was well entertained by a family of Rufous Whistlers that were chasing each other all around me, and challenging me to grab whatever photos I could as they fleetingly touched down then flitted off again to harass each other. Half at least of the satisfaction of bird photography is grabbing a decent photo despite the best efforts of the birds being flighty, the situation (directly over head into the blazing sun!), the weather (overcast, raining), and whatever else comes up (low battery, full memory card, dust on the lens, la di la di la)! Getting home and seeing that the photo turned out as well as I hoped is always a huge thrill! Anyway, an hour mountain bike (MTN) bike ride for hubby, an hour bird watching for me; everyone’s happy! Then a nice fresh dinner of Vietnamese, some groceries and home to chillax as the evening breeze comes drifting in the bedroom door and lounge room floor and makes for a gorgeous evening inside, as much as outside. Delish!

And to top it all off, I problem solved the reason my photo software wasn’t uploading almost by myself, not much hubby input. This is impressive because ever since I started dating hubby and he was studying software, I’ve pretty much left anything technology to him. I have learnt a few things too, but more or less anything out of my immediate knowledge goes to hubby. And he gives me the phrase made famous by the IT crowd: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”. I’m trying to put my brain to learning a bit more, before the medications kill my memory retention altogether. Let’s see how I go. In typical style, I got my afternoon/evening burst of energy and got stuck into getting my blog up to date and managed to get 2 blogs written. I know I should be writing much less, but my memory being what it is, I’m trying to keep the details in so I can remember it later. I haven’t really been able to convey the sense of the day always, the mood, the weather, but hopefully remembering the things will bring back the feeling of the day. We’ll see.

Canberra Day 68

[Friday November 18th]

Another day, another adventure, this time to the National Portrait Gallery. I only knew about this from driving past, and I’m so glad I went! I happened to arrive just as a walking tour of the main exhibit was setting out, and it was so much more interesting to go with a guide and learn more about the painters and styles and paintings from her. I highly recommend the Popular Pets Show that is on at the moment, a fabulous collection that has been worked on for many years apparently, and well worth the effort. The variety of really truly different artistic styles was amazing to me! It’s fascinating how differently a dog can be painted by roughly 15 different artists, and still have so much appeal in each style whether it be for accuracy or character or the dog just leaping off the page almost in real life. Incredible! I did a quick run through a couple of other galleries too and loved the portrait of Princess Mary of course! Unfortunately I was a couple of hours too early for the Undercurrent Design Christmas market they were holding that night with artist stalls; better luck next time. It looked like there would be some beautiful things and a nice festival alongside it. But I was a bit tired to hang around.


You can’t see the fine detail that I love about these paintings, but they are watercolours and the artist “floods” them and it makes the most interesting patterns!


I had a lovely drive around the Kingston foreshore before the portrait gallery. It really is beautiful and they’ve done a great job of fancying up the whole area, especially the promenade with fancy food places and waterfront apartments and a new island housing development; fancy, except apparently it’s sinking at a rate of 40cm a year due to the weight of construction! Oops! There’s a new park, Norgrove Park, that’s been put in with all the development so I checked that out for birds and for a new area, its pretty good. I got 10 species in 10 minutes and that included baby Moorhens and baby Swamphens!! For thos birds to breed right there in the middle of all the houses and developments says a great deal for the design of the pond and park and wetland areas. It’s only small but very nice. Then I got a real bonus surprise. I’ve heard about the Old Bus Depot markets and that they’re a must do, but they’re on Sunday when we aren’t available. BUT…as I was driving around I found a sign for a special Friday Foodies and Farmers market!! The sign said starting at 3pm which gave me just the right amount of time for the portrait gallery then the market. It wasn’t in the old depot like usual but arranged in a circle just outside and there was everything! Canberra made spirits, wine and beer, cheese, pate and flavoured oils, all kinds of fruit, veg, meat and seafood, filled donuts, gyoza, hot food and the list goes on! Add live music and a beautiful day? I hope it was a real hit!

And then after a late afternoon nap, to top off the day, a visit by hubby’s brother and sister-in-law who we lived with for the first month. We walked down to the food truck park in Lonsdale Street, Braddon and had a lovely time over dinner. A walk home, hanging out on the couch at home and doesn’t that just make for the perfect end to a lovely day.